Bringing the Indoors Out: 2020 Outdoor Living Trends

(BPT) – 2020 outdoor living trends are all about enjoying your backyard alfresco – but with the comfort and ease you expect from your indoor spaces. Today’s outdoor spaces are transforming into an extension of the home. The current outdoor design also takes into account the look and feel of your entire home, including the interior and exterior, building materials and surroundings.

Connecting with nature: Biophilic design

Biophilic design is achieved when natural elements are incorporated into the space, helping people feel connected to the natural environment. It creates a calm, tranquil space and reduces stress. Biophilia makes sense for indoor urban environments needing to bring the outdoors in, but how does it work when you’re already outside?

Biophilic design for outdoor spaces means integrating natural elements with constructed elements to create a harmonious space. A plant wall or raised garden bed can integrate greenery and pops of color with the built elements of your outdoor space. It also means using natural materials, like wood and stone, to complement the surrounding environment.

Create greener, more sustainable spaces to celebrate the environment, which can help encourage pollinators, grow healthy food and forge a cohesive outdoor space. You can also use materials such as Belgard’s permeable pavers, which allow water to drain through the surface, replenishing the soil and aquifers beneath your path, walkway or driveway.

More than just a grill

Today’s homeowners want much more than a grill in the backyard. With aspirations to cook and entertain guests outdoors with everything the best outdoor kitchen can offer, the possibilities are endless – from grills to cooktops and ovens or even a wine cooler and an outdoor bar.

Homeowners also have many options when it comes to the design and price point of their outdoor kitchen. Some may lean toward a grill island, adding prep and storage space to their grilling station, while others might create a full-on outdoor kitchen with a grill, smoker, refrigerator, sink, seating area and more.

Either way, homeowners can get a feel for exactly what their space will look like before breaking ground through Belgard’s design resources. The Belgard Design Studio takes a simple sketch, some dimensions and a couple of photos and turns it, using design software, into 3D animations and virtual reality experiences to give homeowners a sense of the finished product in their backyard.

Sleek, modern design

While it may seem contrary to the more organic approach of biophilic design, the contemporary trend toward sleek, modular furniture can enhance your outdoor space.

Modular, sectional pieces with clean lines and streamlined design can be arranged and re-arranged to accommodate any natural elements you want to incorporate in your space, or to handle different numbers of guests when entertaining.

The minimalist approach to furnishings also allows the natural elements around you to take center stage.

Multifunctional spaces

Whether your home is in an urban area with limited green space, or you want to optimize your outdoor living, get creative:

  • Add vertical planters
  • Hang hammocks for lounging
  • Create built-in seating
  • Build raised garden beds

Here’s where some of that modular seating can come in handy, too. Some urban homes make good use of their front porches and yards, instead, which invites more neighborhood engagement and a feeling of community.

Entertaining both night and day

Regardless of the time of day – or year – you and your family can relax comfortably in your outdoor sanctuary, thanks to modern technology and the latest outdoor installations:

  • LED lighting is installed in a variety of ways. You can install strips of light and/or spotlights, even using multiple colors, to add flair at night.
  • In the harsh sunlight, large umbrellas and movable shade walls or screens can keep your space cool and more comfortable.
  • For cooler climates, an outdoor fireplace provides heat and light for cozy evenings in the yard.

Whether you have a straightforward vision for a patio or dream of elaborate outdoor living spaces, these ideas can help you create your oasis. For more information on how you can upgrade your outdoor space, visit Belgard.com.

Embrace Timeless Design Elements For a Lasting Aesthetic

(BPT) – As trends transition in and out of style, an understanding of what takes a space beyond temporary can help achieve a truly timeless design. Whether it’s blending the past with the present for a new take on traditional, or selecting decor and furnishings with a quiet, yet self-assured air, certain elements will establish endurance and ensure an aesthetic that is – and always will remain – relevant.

Enduring interiors

Curate a space that will withstand the test of time by opting for clean lines and even proportions to create an unobtrusive look that will remain effortlessly in style. For a sense of depth and character, consider textured wallpaper, or an authentic rosewood coffee table that will develop a natural patina over time. To further establish staying power, select a complementary neutral palette of soft gray or sandy beige, then accent the clean canvas with quintessential jewel tones for stately elegance.

Classic cues

Invite the past to the present, blending influences from the Edwardian Era and sensibilities from the Machine Age for timeless appeal. Incorporate a modern revival of classic forms with the Invari Bath Collection by Brizo. Subtle design elements display intricate craftsmanship in every graceful nuance, from hand-assembled linchpin joints to finely ridged coining for an artisanal touch. Finishing details, such as black crystal knob handles, elevate the overall look, bringing adornment into a space without excess.

Quiet confidence

A sense of poise and purpose helps to achieve an ageless aesthetic. Select perfectly scaled furnishings that enhance the design, while also serving an intentional role. Opt for fewer, more distinguished elements that can easily transform to changing tastes. Consider a stately stone fireplace to ground the space, or tasteful, yet surprising elements, such as lacquered cherry wood walls or scalloped wainscoting. For an overall cultivated tone, add worldly accents such as a decorative sculpture to create a visually striking and self-assured focal point, then position dramatic uplighting, giving it an almost regal air.

Outlasting elements

Take time to curate a space without granting trends too much influence, whether it be a patient search for an antique mirror or a large-scale painting that boasts modern, yet classic styles for a transitional effect. Make design decisions that lend versatility across aesthetics, from built-in, vaulted bookshelves in the living room, to lustrous tile flooring in the bath space for a clean, polished look. Where possible, maintain a sense of forethought and incorporate decor that is easily adaptable. Elements such as elegant pendant lighting or lush linens can be updated easily to fit current trends, carrying the space seamlessly through time.

Tips To Prepare You and Your Loved Ones For an Emergency

(BPT) – Fires can occur when you least expect it, leaving little time to plan your escape, so the time to prepare for an emergency isn’t when your alarm sounds. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), only 32% of American households have actually developed and practiced an emergency escape plan. Make time to sit down with your family to plan and practice what you would do in case of a fire or carbon monoxide (CO) emergency. Consider the following tips when helping to prepare yourself and your loved ones:

Map It Out

Begin thinking about a home fire escape plan by first drawing a map of your home, making sure to label each window and door. Identify two ways out of each room and walk through your home to make sure the doors and windows you’ve chosen as exits open easily. If your family’s home has a second floor, consider having escape ladders in each room. You can find templates online to help you get started.

Choose a meeting spot.

After you have mapped out all of the ways you can exit, pick an outside meeting spot a safe distance away from your home, such as across the street, at a mailbox or in front of the neighbor’s home. Be sure that your family knows that once they are outside, they need to call 911 and stay outside. Additionally, explain it is important that everyone knows never to re-enter the home for any reason and to let a firefighter know if someone is missing.

Help your loved ones.

Assign someone in your family who can assist infants, seniors or pets during a fire. The responsible person should be in good health and be able to provide the assistance needed.

Check your smoke alarms.

Having working smoke alarms on each level of the home and in every sleeping area is key to having a safe home. Check that you have alarms properly installed throughout your home and remember to test all of the alarms regularly and replace them at least every 10 years. If you have children, consider installing a First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with voice and location technology throughout your home, and especially in their bedroom. This alarm will notify your child of an emergency, distinguishing between a fire or carbon monoxide incident, in a human voice as opposed to a regular alarm. This is especially helpful if a fire strikes at night. Studies have shown children may have an easier time waking up to the sound of a human voice rather than an alarm.

“Smoke alarms are designed to give early warning in case of fire, and making sure your home has properly installed and maintained alarms is the best defense against one,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “As far as CO is concerned, the only way to detect this fatal gas is with a CO alarm, so have one installed on each level of the home and near every sleeping area.”

Plan. Practice. Repeat.

Once your escape plan is finalized, your job is not done. Gather your family together and put your plan in action. Practice this plan at least twice a year, so if disaster strikes, your family will feel confident in their ability to exit the home safely. To make the drills as realistic as possible, conduct them both during the day and at night.

“Planning ahead can save a life,” added Wey. “Talk with your family to make a plan that fits all of your needs.”

For more information about escape planning and fire safety tools, visit www.firstalert.com.

New European House Plan With 4 Bedrooms

European Style Home Plan chp-60205 | Total Living Area: 4557 SQ FT | Bedrooms: 4 | Bathrooms: Two Full, One 3/4, 1 Half Bath | Garage Bays: 3 | Dimensions: 76′ W x 64′ D

This European style two-story house plan design looks as though it comes from a time gone by. A deliberate blend of stone and shake siding gives this European classic curb appeal that is hard to beat.

You’ll love how the kitchen, great room and dining room all work together in an open floor plan to create a spacious living area perfect for entertaining.

The two-story ceiling over the kitchen and great room adds to the overall feeling of a large home.

The master suite is directly attached to a sun room through a private doorway and features a large walk-in closet and spacious bathroom.

Upstairs you’ll love the balcony that overlooks the main level, and you’ll be pleased to find two additional bedrooms, one of which features a walk-in closet and a built-in desk area.

The finished walkout basement includes an additional bedroom, a spacious family room with wet bar and wine cellar, a separate room for a game table and a large theater room.

Click here to see the plan specifications and more interior photography from the new construction of this European Home Plan.

How To Keep Your House Warm – Even In Freezing Temperatures

(BPT) – With the early arrival of winter, the grip of cold temperatures and snowfall that landed along with it, now is a good time to start thinking about keeping your home warm and cozy all season long.

This winter, consider the strategies below to keep your house warm, even during the most frigid days of the year.

Help your HVAC system work more efficiently

No matter what kind of heating system you have, you can take steps to keep it working at its best.

  • Schedule annual heating tune-ups
  • Change the furnace filter frequently
  • Make sure ductwork dampers are open
  • Check air vents – are they open? Are any blocked by furniture?
  • If you have a home with radiators, make sure they aren’t blocked
  • Avoid wild temperature swings – set your thermostat for reasonable highs and lows at night and during the day, since extremely low temps could result in freezing pipes, and your system has to work extra hard to aim for higher temps than it can handle

Consider upgrading your HVAC system

If you have an older system that just can’t keep up or you live in a climate with extreme temperatures, consider upgrading to a new high-efficiency heating system. It may save you money and energy in the long run, while increasing your comfort level.

Thanks to advances in technology, today’s HVAC equipment can provide more consistent air flow and better maintain a constant temperature in every room. In the middle of winter, all of that adds up to a more comfortable and cozy home without the enormous utility bill.

For the latest and greatest in comfort technology for your winter upgrade, consider a duct-free split system equipped with LG’s newest heating technology, the compact and powerful LGRED° (Reliable to Extreme Degrees), designed for even the coldest of climates. With continuous heating capabilities down to -13° Fahrenheit, LGRED° technology provides superior heating performance that will keep you warm all winter long. This increased performance not only delivers heat when traditional HVAC systems are unable, but operates with top notch efficiency, cutting energy costs and increasing savings.

Pair this technology with sleek indoor units, like the LG Art CoolTM lineup, for comfort without sacrificing style. An added plus is that LG systems can make one or many rooms perfectly toasty without tearing up walls or altering the home’s appearance.

Block the leaks

If you have drafts or leaks in your home, you’re losing valuable heated air and letting in the cold. Start by checking doors and windows for any drafts.

  • Improve your doors’ weather stripping and use a draft blocker to further keep cold air out
  • For windows, an insulation kit and heavy drapes can help you prevent leaks
  • If you have an unused fireplace, install a fireplace plug to keep warm air from heading up the chimney
  • Cover up mail slots or pet door flaps that may be leaking air, especially at night
  • Close vents and shut doors to rooms that are seldom used, so more warm air can be redirected to rooms in use
  • Schedule an energy audit from your energy company to identify areas for improvement
  • Attic insulation is also recommended, since heat rises

Reverse ceiling fans

As heat does rise, ceiling fans set on low and adjusted to turn clockwise will help pull up cold air and draw down and circulate warm air that’s hanging out near the ceiling.

Warm your floors

When heat rises, don’t leave your floors out in the cold.

  • If you’re interested in remodeling, radiant floor heating can help warm up a room, and has become especially popular for bathrooms
  • Invest in thick, plush rugs to help rooms feel warmer to your feet

Following just a few of these tips will make a big difference in helping your house feel cozy and warm, even during the most extreme cold temperatures of winter. To learn more about ways to easily improve your home’s warmth this winter, visit LGHVAC.com.